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What is Neospora Caninum?

There are many silent killers in this world, and cancer is usually the first one we think of. However, that is not the only silent lurker when it comes to pet disease. Neosporosis is a very deadly parasite that lives in infected cattle, mostly. This is important to note for pet owners that feed their pets raw diets or possibly live on ranches.

Neosporosis parasites start as unsporulated oocytes, which are passed through feces, water, food, or soil. Once ingested, they live in the body and become sporulated. The final, and deadliest, is when they are fully grown into tachyzoites.

Neosporosis can affect any species of animal, whether they are domestic, captive, or wild. Neosporosis is also widely known to affect unborn animals, just like toxoplasmosis.

Canine Neosporosis is a microscopic protozoan parasite with worldwide distribution. A disease similar to toxoplasmosis, it attacks animal’s brain and spinal cord and slowly shuts down their body. Neospora caninum is a very deadly parasite that should not be taken lightly. Be aware of your dog’s whereabouts and do not feed them raw beef if at all possible. It could be a simple step in saving their life against a tragedy. If you are the owner of cattle as well, vaccinate your livestock to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

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Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

As with most parasitic diseases, symptoms may not always be prevalent until it is too late. When symptoms do show, they come on very quickly and progress rapidly. One account of a pet owner whose dog received Neosporosis after eating raw hamburger mince was that the symptoms showed up after only two days. Symptoms include:

  • Hindlimb paralysis (commonly in puppies)
  • Ulcers
  • Pneumonia
  • Peritonitis - an infection of the lining of the abdomen after a rupture
  • Hepatitis
  • Staggering
  • Slow reflexes or reaction time
  • Blindness

If you recognize any of these symptoms, take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. If it is caught in early stages, they can give your dog medicine to help treat the symptoms of neosporosis.

Types

There is only one kind of neosporosis, and that is neospora canum. Even though the disease is mostly spread by infected cattle, there is no other form of this parasite. It is very closely related to Toxoplasma gondii, which made it difficult to diagnose for years.

Norway was the first country to distinguish the difference between the two in the mid-1980s, naming Neosporosis as a muscular degeneration type disorder. Since its increase of cases and further studies, veterinarians now have the ability to tell the difference between Neosporosis and toxoplasmosis.

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Causes of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

As previously mentioned, Neospora canum is transferred mostly by infected livestock, particularly cattle. This can be because a dog eats an infected, aborted placenta or from eating raw beef. Dogs will contract the parasites from eating tissue of an infected animal that has the parasite cysts in it.

Once the dog eats the infected flesh, the oocytes bursts and the life cycle starts all over again. The parasites create new oocytes in the dog’s body, which are shed through feces and then the cattle eat the infected soil which causes a full circle.

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Diagnosis of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

There are many steps to diagnosis Neosporosis as it must be checked with complete accuracy. Without careful scrutiny, your pet could be misdiagnosed and not given the proper treatment. When in the hospital, your vet will perform tests such as:

  • Biopsy
  • PCR/Immunohistochemistry
  • Serum Antibodies
  • Smears

The veterinarians will use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to check for disruptions in the pet’s DNA due to parasites in the tissues. This is the most common and effective way to check for Neosporosis, although some veterinarians will do various biopsies to check tissues for parasites as well.

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Treatment of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

Unfortunately, there is no full treatment for Neosporosis. If in small puppies, young dogs, or senior dogs the paralysis has already set in, it is too late. There are a set of drugs that can be given to help ease symptoms and provide comfort for your pet, but it is likely they will not recover.

The drugs that are commonly prescribed for Neospora caninum are clindamycin for about 4 weeks up to 8 weeks. They may also prescribe trimethoprim-sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine. For puppies, if one puppy is diagnosed, it is important that a pet owner distributes treatment to littermates before symptoms start showing.

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Recovery of Neospora Caninum in Dogs

Puppies have a very low prognosis as do senior dogs. For them, it is better that you just keep them comfortable and give them their full medication until the end. The pet owner in the previously mentioned story made the decision to put her pet to sleep to reduce its suffering.

For puppies, it is hard to prevent the disease as it is contracted congenitally, however, you can help prevent it in older dogs by keeping them away from livestock and not feeding them raw beef. This reduces the risk of them contracting the disease accidentally.

There is a vaccine that livestock owners can give their cattle to help prevent the contraction of Neosporosis. It is 81% effective, which is a great deal better than leaving cattle unvaccinated. This could be the future of keeping both cattle and canines safe.

While there have been no reported cases of Neospora caninum affecting humans, it is probably better that pregnant women should have minimal contact with infected dogs or cattle. Because it is related to toxoplasma gondii, which is transmitted through cats, there is a chance it could have the same effect on unborn humans as well.

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Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Neospora Caninum Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Crown

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shepherd/boxer

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Crippled, Rear Legs, Incontinent

I have a shepherd/boxer mix that was brought to me after being found in a box roadside. He could not stand steadily on his rear legs, worked with him, never really steadied. Took him to to university vet clinic, did a neurological exam. Opinion was probably an infection of some type in very early puppyhood that caused this problem. He is currently three years old, still cannot use one rear leg, kind of uses the other to hop on. Question is could this be neospora, he is in excellent health otherwise. Thank you for your time.

June 27, 2018

Crown's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Neospora or other infections of the meninges as a young dog that was not treated could lead to long lasting damage. I'm glad that you were able to keep him and work with him, but I'm not sure that he will regain use of that leg. He may benefit from physical therapy?

June 27, 2018

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Puma

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Dogo Argentino

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11 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Stiffness
Weakness
Pain

I have an 11 mos old Dogo Argentino that I have been treating for suspected SRMA for the past two months. A week ago I noticed a swollen testicle. I did an ultrasound and needle aspirate biopsy and cytology of the testicle. He has been diagnosed with Neospora in his testicle. I am currently weaning him off of Prednisone and am treating with SMZ and Clindamycin. Have you ever had a report of this being in a testicle? Thanks in advance.

Dec. 29, 2017

Puma's Owner

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0 Recommendations

I have never thought at Neospora caninum being present in a testicle and I couldn’t find anything about it either; it is known for causing abortion in some species but I don’t know about it being present in the testicles. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 29, 2017

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Neospora Caninum Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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